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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 13th Mar 2017 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day: 

Costa quadruples coffee capacity following launch of Europe’s largest roastery: Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee has opened its £38m coffee roastery in Basildon in Essex – quadrupling the company’s roasting capacity from 11,000 tonnes to 45,000 tonnes per year and marking a significant milestone in its growth plans. The facility, entitled Paradise Street, is the biggest coffee roastery in Europe, covering 85,690 square feet, and will allow Costa to produce more than two billion cups of coffee a year. All of Costa’s raw coffee beans are shipped into Tilbury Docks, only 14 miles from the site. Costa Coffee managing director Dominic Paul said: “Costa is growing rapidly as a global business and our new roastery will provide the platform for sustained international expansion. Turning on our new roasting capacity is a landmark for the business. Roasting in Basildon keeps the UK at the centre of our growing global brand and enables us to build on everything we have learned from more than four decades of roasting in Lambeth. It is about quality, capacity, investing in the future and being true to our heritage – it’s about embracing our traditions while continuing to innovate and drive global growth.” The roastery also includes a coffee academy, which will train 3,000 baristas a year, while it will feature on-site renewable energy generation, including solar power and a rainwater harvesting system. The facility has been shortlisted for the 2017 BREEAM Awards for sustainability. Production director Giorgio Fioravanti added: “We are now able to produce 45,000 tonnes of coffee every year, with the potential to expand to 60,000 tonnes. This new facility will enable Costa to grow for decades to come, as we look to go from the UK’s favourite coffee brand to the world’s favourite.”

Industry News:

London Pride Unfiltered competition winner – final day: To celebrate the launch of London Pride Unfiltered, brewer and retailer Fuller’s has teamed up with Propel to offer five days of prizes. The prize for day five, the final day, was an overnight stay with breakfast and dinner for two at a Fuller’s hotel – or one of its pubs with boutique bedrooms – plus a 30-litre keg of London Pride Unfiltered, which was won by Crawford Scott, regional operations director at Punch (Mercury pubs division). Thank you to everyone who entered the competition. Anyone interested in stocking London Pride Unfiltered should email or call 023 9271 4444.

Kenee hails crowdfunding bond as fast route to growth: Steven Kenee, partner and head of Downing Crowd’s licensed leisure team, has hailed the company’s recent crowdfunding bond as a fast route to growth. Hedderwick, a company managed with support from Oakman Inns & Restaurants, launched a £1.87m fund-raise through crowdfunding platform Downing Crowd on Tuesday (7 March). The pub bond will be available through Downing Crowd’s new Innovative Finance ISA tax wrapper, which will allow investors to potentially earn up to 6.25% interest over 12 months tax-free. The bond has raised more than £1.75m and rising in a matter of days. Kenee was responding to a presentation by AlixPartners managing director Paul Hemming at the Propel Multi Club Conference on Thursday (9 March) at The Millennium Gloucester Hotel, London, in which he said that while banks were keen to support the sector, they were lending on “historic Ebitda and not run rate”. Kenee said: “While I understand why the banks take this position, it is frustrating for businesses with the ambition to grow the size of their freehold estate at anything other than a snail’s pace. While a business may be able to borrow enough money from their bank to purchase or develop a new site, they have to wait until it is up, running and fully contributing to Ebitda before they can borrow against it to fund the acquisition or development of their next site. This is fine if your ambition stops at opening a new site every 18 to 24 months but, if you want to move faster, you need a different funding solution. Many people believe the only way to solve this is by selling equity and this is something they are uncomfortable doing from both a control and cost point of view. However, products such as the bonds being raised on the Downing Crowd platform provide a good solution as, while they are more expensive than bank debt – interest typically 6% to 10% per year – bank debt is not an option if you want to move quickly. Furthermore, the bonds can be repaid with bank debt once trade has been proven, which makes it a lot cheaper than selling equity. There is an appetite from investors in the sector for this type of bond and this is before our ISA wrapper comes online and makes the returns tax-free.”

Shortage of British workers in UK hotels and restaurants so severe that many will go bust unless ministers allow EU workers to remain in jobs says BHA: The shortage of British workers in UK hotels and restaurants is so severe that many will go bust unless ministers allowed EU migrants to continue to work in low-skilled jobs after the UK leaves, the British Hospitality Association (BHA) has warned. The BHA also said companies such as Pret A Manger, whose human resources director told MPs last week just one in 50 of its job applicants was British, would need ten years to replace EU staff after Brexit. BHA chairman Ufi Ibrahim told The Guardian: “It is going to very, very tough indeed. It will be a very long time for businesses like Pret to replace EU staff because they are largely based in the south east. I think it will take ten years to build a future talent pipeline.” The BHA is calling on the government to bolster its newly announced technical qualifications with better promotion within schools of non-academic careers, including hospitality. Ibrahim said: “We have to go back into the schools and present hospitality as a career option to children between the ages of 11 and 14.” In the meantime, she said Britain has to have continued access to a low-skilled EU workforce otherwise businesses face bankruptcy.

Spending in restaurants, bars and hotels increases 1.2% in February as consumer spend picks up again: Spending in restaurants, bars and hotels increased 1.2% in February compared with last year as consumer spend once again picked up, according to the latest data from Visa. Consumer spend increased 1.5% year-on-year in January, up from 0.4% in January, Visa’s UK Consumer Spending Index has revealed. The increased spend in restaurants bars and hotels was softer than in previous months, suggesting consumers are becoming more cautious with their discretionary spend. Meanwhile, food and drink saw a 1.0% decline. Face-to-face spending declined 3.0% while e-commerce was up 3.2% year-on-year, down from 4.1% the previous month. Notably, it was the third month in a row the rate of expenditure growth had eased in this category. Besides food and drink, three other categories – clothing and footwear, household goods, and transport and communication – saw drops in expenditure. As well as the pub, restaurant and hotel category, recreation and culture (3.3%), miscellaneous goods and services (2.0%), and health and education (0.9%) saw increases in spend compared with the previous year. Visa UK and Ireland managing director Kevin Jenkins said: “Following a marked slowdown in January, consumer spending restored some momentum in February. Overall spend grew at an annual rate of 1.5% from a low point of 0.4% in the previous month. Growth in the experience sector continues to be a significant driver. Valentine’s Day and the half-term break gave consumers more reasons to dine out and treat their loved ones to short getaways around the UK. At the same time, the level of growth in the leisure and hospitality sectors was softer than we have seen in the past year, showing signs that consumers are becoming more cautious with their discretionary spending. And for clothing retailers, February was yet another challenging month, recording the biggest drop across all the sectors that we track. Notably, online retailers continued to enjoy strong growth, while the high street trailed behind, declining for the third month in the last four.”

Lewes landlord bites back over Budget business rates decision: The landlord of a pub in Lewes, East Sussex, has written to his MP to complain about the chancellor’s business rates announcement in the Budget on Wednesday (8 March). Tony Leonard, landlord of The Snowdrop Inn, wrote to Maria Caulfield ahead of the Budget expressing concerns over the effect of business rates on pubs in the town. Caulfield told him she had been assured bills would “be capped” but the details were “still being worked on”. She added: “I have made representation to the chancellor on this issue. I am a Campaign for Real Ale member so keen to support the pub industry and I am working behind the scenes to reduce the impact of this re-evaluation and to ensure the system is overhauled.” In the Budget, the chancellor offered a sector-specific £1,000 discount on pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 – move met with anger by many in the industry. Leonard replied to Caulfield stating: “It appears the assurances you received that business rates would be capped for pubs such as The Snowdrop were misplaced. It now appears we face an increase in our bill of more than £20,000 minus a discount of £1,000 for a single year. In addition, the chancellor has chosen to increase duty on alcohol. With protection for the beleaguered pub industry like this, we can only shudder at the thought of what might have happened should your government have chosen to attack us!” Caulfield has offered to meet Leonard to discuss the matter.

CMA to investigate Just Eat’s £200m takeover of Hungryhouse: The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will investigate Just Eat’s proposed acquisition of Hungryhouse to curb competition in the takeaway food industry. In December, Just Eat agreed a deal to buy Hungryhouse from rival Delivery Hero for £200m with the potential for another £40m to be paid depending on performance. But the deal could now take longer than expected after the CMA said it would begin a merger inquiry next week, reports the Daily Telegraph. As part of its investigation it will invite comments up until Friday, 24 March and then give a decision on Wednesday, 10 May about whether to give the deal the go-ahead in its current form. Just Eat said in its full-year results last week it would incur £5m of transaction costs on the Hungryhouse deal and had, as part of the proposed transaction, paid a £6m deposit that is “refundable in only very limited circumstances, not including an adverse ruling by the CMA”. Just Eat said at the time it announced its plans that Hungryhouse should generate between £12m to £15m of cash profits for the company in 2017. On the same day that it announced this deal, Just East also revealed it had agreed to acquire Canadian company SkipTheDishes for CAD$110m (then £66.1m).

US restaurants see like-for-like sales fall 3.7% in February: US restaurants saw like-for-like sales fall 3.7% in February with visits declining 5.0%. Like-for-like sales have fallen 2.7% on average in the past three months, according to data company TDn2K’s The Restaurant Industry Snapshot, which is based on weekly sales from more than 26,000 restaurants and more than 145 brands representing $66bn in annual revenue. Average spend in February grew by 1.2% – the lowest rate in four years, reports Nation’s Restaurant News. Fine dining and upscale casual were the strongest segments in February. Fine dining was the only segment up overall while the weakest segments, which both saw like-for-like sales fall more than 4%, were casual dining and family dining. According to the first quarter 2017 Workforce Index published by TDn2K’s People Report, restaurant operators predict staffing challenges to continue in 2017. Job growth might be slowing, but both hourly and management turnover continue to rise. As a consequence, recruiting and retaining qualified employees is the top people-related challenge for restaurant operators. 

London hotel market reports occupancy and rate growth: The London hotel market saw increases in revpar, occupancy and demand in February, according to new research. STR’s preliminary February data showed revpar rose 7.5% to £102.85 compared with the previous year while occupancy increased 2.7% to 77.6%. Average daily rate was up 4.7% to £132.50, while there was a 5.5% increase in demand and a 2.8% rise in supply. STR analysts cited London Fashion Week, which took place from 16-21 February, as a factor in the performance growth.

Morrisons boss attacks Tesco tie-up with Booker: Morrisons chairman Andy Higginson has attacked Tesco’s £3.9bn deal with Booker and said the tie-up would mean the supermarket would “exert even more power over thousands of retailers”. Higginson, who was Tesco finance director in its glory days, said he was convinced the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) would scrutinise the deal and Booker had been courting rival supermarkets “for the past two years”. He told the Sunday Telegraph: “I think the CMA will want to look at this in a lot of detail to really understand how it is going to change the market and lead to Tesco controlling about 25% of the supply of food into the market.” Tesco and Booker have attempted to assuage competition concerns by arguing Booker’s convenience shop fascias – Londis, Premier, Budgens and Happy Shopper – are owned by franchisees. However, Higginson said: “The truth is they control and influence, and it will be a lot more difficult [to gain clearance] than they realise.” Asked whether Morrisons would have been interested in Booker, Higginson said: “It’s not a deal we wanted to do.” 
Hackney levy will undermine local business – ALMR: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has warned Hackney Borough Council’s decision to consult on a Late Night Levy could “stifle investment and have a detrimental effect on local businesses” if approved. It said an additional cost burden alongside increases in business rates would undermine pub, bar and restaurant operators whose venues “bring money to the area and contribute to the unique character of this part of London”. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The introduction of a Late Night Levy would be a retrograde step for the council and local businesses will suffer as a result. Pubs, restaurants and nightclubs in Hackney already make a substantial contribution in the form of taxes and business rates – which for most local operators are increasing substantially – and an additional cost burden will only undermine their ability to invest and employ in the area. The borough’s pubs, bars and nightclubs are an asset to the community. They attract customers, bring money to the area and contribute to the unique character of this part of London. The ALMR has consistently opposed the introduction of late night levies and has liaised with councils to promote a greater emphasis on partnership schemes and voluntary measures, rather than punitive taxes. Local authorities across the UK need to work with their local pubs and bars to solve any problems arising in the area rather than looking to them for a short-term boost to the council’s finances.”

Company News:

Hotcha to move into new headquarters and production unit as part of expansion plans: Hotcha, the Chinese takeaway franchise, is to move to a new production facility and headquarters in Bristol as part of its expansion plans. The company has taken a 19,066 square foot unit at Airfield House in Hengrove on a ten-year lease. The property comprises a production and warehouse facility and incorporates 4,055 square feet of office space on the ground and first floors. The company was founded in 2011 by James Liang and Andy Chan and operates 13 sites, with the majority in the south west. It secured £7.5m in funding last year to expand further, with ten locations in London and the south east due to open in the next 18 months. Hotcha is moving from Ashton Vale to meet the demands of its expanding network. Liang said: “Our ambition is to become the first national Chinese takeaway chain in the UK. Following our recent £7.5m funding round, we are well positioned to deliver our pipeline of a further 20 store openings across the UK in 2017.” Agents Cushman & Wakefield agreed the letting on behalf of the landlord – a private pension fund – while JLL acted on behalf of Hotcha.

Red Oak Taverns reopens Berkhamsted’s oldest pub: Red Oak Taverns has reopened The Bull, the oldest pub in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, following a six-figure investment. The company acquired The Bull from GRS in 2015 as part of a 146-pub portfolio. Work on the pub in High Street includes a new kitchen, a decking area seating 50 and refurbished interiors. It will be run by new licensees Russell and Michelle North, with home-prepared food served daily and the couple’s son, Jake, as bar manager. Red Oak Taverns director Mark Grunnell said: “It’s great to be able to breathe life back into a fantastic historic community pub and is a perfect example of the success of the collaborative approach on which we pride ourselves. Over the past six years, we have built our portfolio from 32 to 170 sites and we are now on the acquisition trail, having transformed many unloved pubs back into thriving concerns in the heart of their communities. We’ve achieved this through investment and working together with our licensees.” Founded in 2011 by Grunnell and Aaron Brown, the company is privately owned by its co-founders and a small number of like-minded investors. Its estate is mainly in the south, north west and the Midlands. The Bull backs on to the Grand Union Canal, with records showing it was in use as a pub in 1535.

Friska to open first concession site after signing first franchise deal: Independent healthy eating brand Friska is to open its first concession after signing its first franchise deal. The company, founded in 2009 by Ed Brown and Griff Holland, is opening the site at the newly refurbished London Luton Airport departures lounge in partnership with Delaware North. The new site, which will be the company’s ninth outlet and is due to open in June, will be the biggest Friska yet and have more than 85 covers. Brown said: “We’re really excited to collaborate with Delaware North on what will hopefully be the first of many deals in transport hubs. They are world-leading and we are confident that they are the right partner for Friska’s next phase of expansion.” Delaware North business development and marketing director Simon Harrington added: “We have loved the Friska offer since we first met Ed and Griff and we are extremely excited about opening the London Luton Airport store, hopefully the first of many in UK airports.” London Luton Airport commercial director Rupert Lawrie said: “The development currently underway at the airport isn’t just about transforming the terminal and transport links – it’s about transforming the experience for passengers and that includes ensuring there are food and drink options to suit all tastes. Friska is an incredibly exciting addition to that mix.”

JD Wetherspoon puts up prices: JD Wetherspoon has put up the cost of its popular meal deals as it introduced new menu items. Prices vary nationally but the Sunday People reported Wetherspoon’s burger and drink deal has risen on average from £7.25 to £7.40 while a chicken burger has increased from £4.59 to £4.75. A pint of Kronenbourg costing £3.09 is now £3.19. At one site – in Oxted, Surrey – its breakfast deals have also gone up, with porridge rising from £2.39 to £2.45 and toast from £1.59 to £1.65. Spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “We have introduced a new menu with some new products and there maybe some changes on food and drink prices. We aim to remain extremely competitive. However we will not comment on individual prices.”

Boki agrees deal to open second site, in Seven Dials: Coffee shop concept Boki has signed a deal with Shaftesbury to open its second site, within a 1,300 square foot space in Earlham Street, Seven Dials. Boki was founded by Kim Mahony Hargreaves and Boris Becker in 2014, combining their careers in hospitality and business management. They opened their first cafe in 2015, working with Allpress coffee, T2 tea, and London-based food and drink producers to create a healthy and wholesome breakfast and lunch menu. The new shop will look to create an all-day social hub in Earlham Street and will expand its offering and opening hours into the evening. Hargreaves said: “We are delighted to be launching our concept at such a prestigious London location. We have a long love for Seven Dials having met while working in the film industry in Soho 12 years ago. Situated among other excellent cafés and food destinations, this will be the ideal venue to launch.” This follows the recent opening of tea specialists, My Cup of Tea, a modern tea maker sourcing and blending the best teas and tisanes. The new 1,400 square foot Seven Dials shop, which is only its second location in the UK, features a classic tea counter at the rear where loose teas and tisanes are sold by weight and displayed in steel scoops and apothecary jars. Within the unit there is a cafe and tearoom as well as the opportunity to purchase teapots, matcha bowls and gift sets. Shaftesbury retail leasing and strategy surveyor Addy Williams said: “Boki will add another eye-catching new cafe with a really attractive design concept. My Cup of Tea has already been trading well and attracting visitors who are curious to see their unique offer. Both brands provide visitors with a haven to relax and drink in the atmosphere whilst at Seven Dials in the heart of the West End.”
Royal Yacht Britannia unveils plans for Scotland’s first ‘boatique’ hotel: Plans for Scotland’s first luxury floating hotel have been lodged that would see the MV Fingal converted into a 23-bedroom hotel berthed at the Prince of Wales Dock in Edinburgh’s historic port of Leith. The £3.5m investment by the Royal Yacht Britannia’s trading company, Royal Yacht Enterprises, would see the ship provide a wide range of bedroom suites, cabins with private balconies, duplex apartments, and a presidential suite. The “boatique” hotel is expected to open in Easter 2018 and create 30 jobs. The Royal Yacht Britannia, berthed at Ocean Terminal in Leith, attracted 350,000 visitors last year and has been named Scotland’s Best Attraction for the past 11 years by VisitScotland. Britannia chief executive Bob Downie said: “We are looking forward to the challenges of operating in the luxury hotel market and the benefits it will generate for Britannia in the years to come.” Peter Lederer, chairman of the Gleneagles Hotel, added: “This ‘boatique’ hotel has the potential to be the best hotel experience in Edinburgh and, given the quality of the Britannia experience, I am looking forward to seeing a new benchmark in Scotland.”
Birmingham-based rodizio operator launches pizza concept in The Cube: A “rodizio de pizza” concept that combines Brazilian and Italian dining has launched in The Cube in central Birmingham. Osteria Rodizio Rico is the brainchild of owner Mike Nayla, who already operates a more traditional Brazilian restaurant at the complex – Rodizio Rico. The new concept still involves using a churrascaria – a Brazilian barbecue-style grill – but offers all-you-can-eat Italian food. Nayla told Insider Media: “There is such a demand for Rodizio Rico’s food it made sense to expand. However, rather than simply add more tables to the existing restaurant we have invested in a fresh concept. The first ‘rodizio de pizza’ was opened by an Italian immigrant in Brazil in 1972. The concept is the same as our ‘rodizio de carne’ offering – only this time we serve unlimited pizza and pasta for a fixed price instead of barbecued meat.” The Cube director Neil Edginton added: “Rodizio Rico brought the concept of churrascaria to Birmingham and customers have loved the easy-going, friendly character of the restaurant. It is one of The Cube’s best-known and most popular venues so we are excited to taste the new flavours Mike Nayla and his team have created at Osteria Rodizio Rico.”

Charles Wells to brew Courage in London for first time in a generation: Bedford-based brewer and retailer Charles Wells will brew Courage beer in London for the first time in a generation thanks to a craft collaboration with Southwark Brewing Co. The Courage SE1 project will see a new limited edition range of cask ales released every two months until February 2018. The beers will be brewed by the team at Southwark Brewing Co with the guidance of the brew team at Charles Wells, which is custodian of the Courage brand and heritage. A session IPA and a smoked porter will be the debut releases – during London Beer Week (13 to 19 March) – alongside a series of tours highlighting 230-year-old Courage’s influence on the SE1 area. Charles Wells marketing director Jason Wills said: “The Courage SE1 Project will merge the expertise and creativity of brewers from Courage and Southwark Brewing Co and bring a modern twist to the Courage range that is close to our original London SE1 roots in both location and passion.” Southwark Brewing Co managing director Peter Jackson said: “We research history extensively for inspiration for our new beers and, when we were approached by Charles Wells to develop this project, we jumped at the chance.” The Courage cockerel logo has also been redesigned – but only for use during the project.

Whitbread chairman checked out by Marks & Spencer: Whitbread chairman Richard Baker is understood to have been sounded out by Marks & Spencer (M&S) in its search for a new chairman. Baker, who is also chairman of DFS Furniture, is a contender to succeed Robert Swannell, who plans to stand down this year. Baker was chief operating officer at Asda before becoming boss of Boots in 2003. He turned around the chemist chain, merged it with Alliance Unichem and agreed its £11bn sale to private equity firm KKR and Alliance founder Stefano Pessina in 2007. It is not clear whether Baker, who chairs the British Retail Consortium, would be interested in the M&S role, which would probably force him to relinquish his job at Whitbread, reports The Sunday Times.

Halewood secures £50m funding, teams up with Liverpool FC: Halewood Wines and Spirits has secured a £50m funding boost and agreed a partnership with Liverpool Football Club. Halewood has secured a three-year, £50m debt facility from Royal Bank of Scotland to support its growth and acquisition strategy, which includes developing a balanced portfolio of spirit brands to complement its drinks range that includes Lambrini, Crabbie’s and Red Square. Meanwhile, Merseyside-headquartered Halewood has teamed up with Liverpool FC in a partnership that will run until 2020 in a bid to boost brand recognition internationally. Halewood will benefit from the club’s global reach through digital marketing and social media channels, while its drinks will be available at the Anfield stadium’s hospitality lounges, the Boot Room Sports Café, and at the club’s conferences and events. Halewood chief executive Stewart Hainsworth said: “The partnership with RBS is another important step in Halewood’s strategic plan to build a portfolio of distinctive brands with strong local provenance. Halewood has grown up in Liverpool, we’re proud to be here and want to use our growing, high-quality spirits portfolio alongside one of the world’s best football teams to put an even brighter spotlight on the city.” Earlier this month, Halewood entered the brewing sector by acquiring a majority stake in Lake District-based brewer Hawkshead.

Sector entrepreneur-backed Japanese-inspired snacks and meals company raises more than £250,000 on Seedrs: Japanese-inspired snacks and meals company Miso Tasty, which has sector entrepreneur Yaser Martini as a director and investor, has raised more than £250,000 on crowdfunding platform Seedrs. The company, which was founded in 2014 by chef Bonnie Chung, was aiming to raise £150,000 and is offering a 9.53% equity stake in return for an investment. So far, 227 investors have pledged £252,770 with the largest investment to date being £25,100. The pitch states: “Miso Tasty is a modern brand of Japanese-inspired snacks and meal solutions. We have a growing range of tasty, wholesome products including miso soups and miso pastes, and an internationally acclaimed cookbook. You can find us nationwide in Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Ocado, Wholefoods, Selfridges, and Harvey Nichols, as well as in offices such as Google. This investment will primarily meet the working capital requirement for launching our new Ramen Noodle Kits into a confirmed listing of 290 Waitrose stores and support the roll out to other major retailers. Our noodle range increases our capital requirements due to the larger stock holding required to supply a more mainstream category. We intend to invest in our supply chain to ensure that we remain a reliable supplier to our growing number of customers. We intend to continue investing in brand-building activities such as consumer trade shows, PR, events, social media, and in-store marketing to ensure that we are supporting our growing range of products with increased brand awareness.”
Former St John chefs open debut restaurant in Lewisham: Terry Blake and Yohini Nandakumar will open their debut restaurant, Sparrow, in Lewisham, south east London, on Tuesday, 28 March. The husband-and-wife team met while working at St John in Smithfields and seasonality will be at the heart of their menu, with a focus on British meat and vegetables and European cooking techniques. The diverse menu will reflect Blake’s background as chef at Bao and Merchant’s Tavern, and Nandakumar’s career at Pollen Street Social and her Sri Lankan heritage. Opening in Rennell Street, close to Lewisham station, Sparrow will feature an open kitchen clad in emerald V&A tiles, and antique tables and chairs. Open Tuesday to Saturday for dinner, Sparrow will also open for brunch at weekends, offering coffee made with Ozone beans and a menu featuring appam – a Sri Lankan-style pancake made from fermented rice batter. Nandakumar said: “We chose the name Sparrow because it reflects the kind of food we make – like a sparrow we aren’t specific to a place or country. One week we might put a classic Italian dish on the menu and other times we’ll make a crunchy Malay-style salad with whatever is in season.”
Turtle Bay eyes Swansea city centre site: Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay is set to open a venue in Swansea city centre. The company has applied to transform 4,000 square feet of ground-floor space at the former Inspirations store in Castle Street. James Morse, a director of the company that owns the building, told the South Wales Evening Post: “As well as creating jobs for local people, this new restaurant will add to the area’s vitality while supporting Swansea Council’s ideas to transform Castle Square into a more thriving, family-friendly destination where people can dine and enjoy views of the castle.” Turtle Bay operates 35 sites in the UK and last month applied to open a venue in Colchester, Essex. Turtle Bay, which is backed by Piper Private Equity, was formed by Las Iguanas co-founder Ajith Jaya-Wickrema and opened its first site in Milton Keynes in 2010. It opened a site in Cardiff’s St Mary Street in December.

Carluccio’s opens restaurant at Solihull town centre development: Carluccio’s has opened its latest site – in a four-storey building at the new Mell Square shopping centre in Solihull, West Midlands. It is one of the few Carluccio’s in the UK that offers pizza, each hand-stretched using slow-proven dough to create a thin and crispy base and topped with Italian ingredients including buffalo mozzarella, 18-month aged Parma ham and nduja – a spicy pork salumi. In November, plans were approved for Mell Square owners IM Properties to convert eight shops next to Carluccio’s into three restaurants. Rob Hemus, of IM Properties, said: “We hope to create a thriving hub of restaurants, where people can meet up with friends, family and colleagues and enjoy the atmosphere.” Earlier this month, Carluccio’s launched its debut “new generation” site in York featuring a 168-cover restaurant alongside a shop and deli.
Krispy Kreme announces double opening: Krispy Kreme will open a store in Sutton Coldfield next week, while it is also advertising for staff to work at a site set to launch in Middlesbrough. The Sutton Coldfield site will open in the Gracechurch Centre on Tuesday (14 March). The kiosk-style store will feature Krispy Kreme’s signature Original Glazed doughnut plus 16 other varieties, including the new Nutty Chocolatta. Krispy Kreme operations director Neil Williamson told the Birmingham Mail: “We’re hugely excited to be expanding in the Midlands. We’ve been eager to open a store in Sutton Coldfield since seeing great success with our Birmingham Selfridges store.” Krispy Kreme UK operates more than 70 stores across Britain.
St Austell Brewery appoints retail director: Cornwall-based St Austell Brewery has appointed Steve Worrall as retail director to lead its 177-strong managed and tenanted pub business. Worrall will work alongside estate director Adam Luck before succeeding him at the end of 2017. Luck will remain on the board as property director. Worrall has worked in the hospitality industry for more than 20 years, most recently as brand director at Spirit Pub Company. He also has experience of owning and operating his own food-led pub business and as a hospitality consultant to the pub trade. St Austell Brewery chief executive James Staughton said: “Steve and his team will focus on responding to the ever-changing demands of consumers and ensuring our growing pub estate continues to deliver exceptional and distinct experiences. It is excellent news we will be able to retain Adam’s considerable knowledge of our estate and his property experience gained over 40 years with the company.” Worrall added: “The company has a clear focus on providing the very best customer experience throughout its sites. I am looking forward to joining the great team at St Austell and playing a part in delivering the vision for continued growth.” Last week, St Austell Brewery appointed Tim McCord as general manager of Bath Ales, which it acquired last July. The company is due to start work on a new brewery at Bath Ales’ headquarters in Warmley in September.

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