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Wed 19th Jul 2017 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Gourmet Burger Kitchen reports ‘strong’ like-for-like growth: Gourmet Burger Kitchen has reported turnover grew 16% to £77.9m in the year ended 26 February 2017 (2016: £67.4m) as it opened 13 new restaurants, four more than the year before. The company stated: “(Revenue) was driven by new openings, strong underlying like-for-like growth and continued development of new channels such as ‘click and collect’ and delivery.” Gross profit increased by 15% to £33m (2016: £28.8m) and gross profit margin was 42.4% (2016: 42.7%). Administrative expenses for the period increased 16% to £26.8m (2016: £23.1m) due to the increased number of restaurants in the estate. Restaurant opening costs for the period increased 58% to £1.9m (2016; £1.2m), largely due to the higher number of openings. The company reported a 9% increase in profit before tax, achieving £6.2m (2016: £5.7m). Gourmet Burger Kitchen was acquired by South Africa-based Famous Brands during the year. The company bought out the franchisee of its five sites in Ireland – it reported revenue from sites in Ireland was £2.7m. Gourmet Burger Kitchen currently has 86 sites having opened its latest venue, in Leicester this month. The fortunes of Gourmet Burger Kitchen appear to contrast with that of rivals Handmade Burger Co and Byron. Handmade Burger Co went into administration earlier this month with nine of its 29 restaurants closing. The remaining outlets are trading as normal as administrators Leonard Curtis Recovery seek approval from creditors to pursue a company voluntary arrangement, which was “considered the best outcome for all creditors”. Meanwhile, Byron, which is backed by Hutton Collins, has put four of its sites on the market. 

Industry News:

Operators and Investors Dinner open for bookings: Propel’s fourth annual Operators and Investors Dinner is to be held on Monday, 11 September at the Banking Hall in the City of London and is open for bookings. The event is a chance for expanding operators of multi-site foodservice companies to mix with attendees from the banking, private equity and investment community to expand their network of contacts. Tickets are £120 plus VAT and can be booked by emailing or calling 01444 817691. 
New Propel and Mark McCulloch masterclass to unlock secrets of social media: The schedule for the first Social Media for Profit masterclass has been revealed. Propel is launching the social media “boot camp” with Mark McCulloch, founder and group chief executive of brand, marketing and digital agency WE ARE Spectacular. Attendees will learn how to go toe-to-toe with their marketing department, team and social media agency, while adding value to their social media strategy. McCulloch will give insights into how delegates can build their sales and brand by using social media. He will also explain the ways in which social media is evolving and provide an in-depth explanation of the latest social media landscape, its various channels, and how to use them to your advantage. McCulloch will also provide sessions on all major social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and reveal how you can target potential customers with the right messages to drive sales. And, looking back on his vast experience in the industry, McCulloch will explain the best methods to use in the event of a social media disaster, from a mere blip to a national crisis. The half-day event takes place on Thursday, 14 September at One Moorgate Place in London. Tickets are £345 plus VAT for operators, £445 plus VAT for suppliers, and £295 plus VAT for Propel Premium subscribers. To book a place, email or call 01444 817691.

Job of the week: Hospitality & Retail Recruitment is seeking a head chef in Cambridge on behalf of a client. For more details click here. 

Number of consumers using contactless payment for lunch worth £5 or less rises 300%: The number of consumers using contactless payment for lunch worth £5 or less has risen by 300% in the past year, according to new research. The findings by Vianet, which provides vending machines for the hospitality industry, also revealed 63% of people would switch to paying with contactless if it was available on a vending machine – 40% said this was because it would make the transaction quicker. Vianet said the trend for quicker transactions and instant purchases has been influenced by the rise of online shopping where customers can get what they want at the click of a button – £133bn was spent online with UK retailers during 2016, £18bn more than the previous year. A leading driver behind the growth of contactless has been convenience purchases, with Barclaycard’s Spending Index showing contactless payment rose 218% at service stations, 136% in supermarkets and 87% in convenience stores during 2016. Vianet managing director Matt Lane said: “Today’s consumer is time poor and increasingly seeking faster transactions. People have become accustomed to buying things online at the click of a button and this habit is altering the way they make purchases in retail – especially convenience purchases, such as food and drink. The fast rise in contactless cards and increased acceptance in retail outlets will inevitably be accompanied by rising consumer expectations – namely the ability to use the contactless payment process whenever and wherever they go, certainly for low priced items, and everyday convenience purchases. This presents a golden opportunity for vending operators to drive sales by providing a robust, quick payment transaction that reduces the barriers between the customer making a purchase. Smoothing the customer journey works two-fold as it encourages spontaneous sales and also drives repeat custom thanks to a seamless experience.”

Borough Market traders ask for help as they wait for insurance claims to be processed: A number of Borough Market traders hit by losses since the London Bridge terror attack have called for financial help from the government as they wait to see if insurers will pay out. The plea for help comes just over six weeks after three terrorists carried out the van and knife attack, which killed eight people on 3 June. The market was subsequently closed for ten days, prompting its owners to launch a Traders Support Fund in partnership with the charity United St Saviour’s and business improvement district Better Bankside. So far, £130,000 has been raised for the fund. However, total losses to businesses are estimated at £1.5m. Nick Stokes, the co-owner of Mediterranean street food firm Gourmet Goat, said the company is facing losses of about £9,000. A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy told the Evening Standard the “government is committed to ensuring businesses affected by this and other recent incidents receive the support they need to get back on their feet”. He added the department is working with different parties “to understand the needs of local businesses, what resources are available and what more may be needed”.

Newbury restaurant quarter plans approved: West Berkshire Council has approved plans to create a restaurant quarter in Newbury’s Kennet shopping centre. The local authority said the quarter would “act positively on Newbury town centre as a whole, aiding its vibrancy and vitality”. Five or six new restaurants will be located along the Cheap Street side of the centre. Kennet shopping centre manager Mag Williams told Newbury Today: “We want to bring good-quality restaurants to the Kennet centre. I think Vue (cinema operators) will be pleased. They feel that apart from Nando’s, who have been brilliant, there isn’t enough of an offering around the cinema to stop people going to Reading or elsewhere.” Other restaurants at the shopping centre, which opened in 1972, include Gourmet Burger Kitchen, BooBars Smokehouse and Boswell’s Cafe.

Company News:

Tullymore House reports profit boost as turnover approaches £20m: Belfast-based hospitality group Tullymore House, which is behind the Italian restaurant brand Fratelli, has reported a profit boost as turnover approached the £20m mark. The company saw turnover rise to £19,947,224 for the year ending 31 October 2016 compared with £15,761,124 the previous year. Pre-tax profit was up to £3,721,409 compared with £2,601,537 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Gross profit margin increased to 41.89% compared with 41.60% the year before. The company stated: “A total of £2,026,333 was reinvested in new assets during the period (2015: £9,227,698). Net assets of the group at the year-end were £9,972,234 (2015: £10,139,116). During the next five years, the group will continue to focus on a programme of capital investment.” Tullymore House also operates the Galgorm Resort and Spa and a property development company. The number of employees during the period rose to 452 from 383.
North Bar to retain ‘individual identity’ while capacity increase reveals ‘strong appetite’ for brewing arm’s beers: Christian Townsley, co-founder of Yorkshire-based craft beer pub operator North Bar, has told Propel the company will continue to open venues with an “individual identity” while its brewing arm, North Brewing Co, is preparing to ramp up capacity that reveals a “strong appetite” for its beers. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, North Bar currently operates seven sites and Townsley said creating outlets to suit his and co-founder John Gyngell’s personal needs would remain a theme regarding all future additions to the portfolio. He pointed to the company’s latest venue in Harrogate, which fits in more with his way of life now he has become a father. He said: “It opens at 8am serving coffee and pastries. It’s a case of what do I want now? It’s not a raucous pub. It’s in a genteel location with a different clientele to the North Bar in Leeds. While North Bar Leeds is open until 3am with people partying on, Harrogate is much more muted. I can’t remember the last time I was in a bar at 1am.” Townsley said the company would also maintain an appetite for taking on non-traditional properties to turn into venues, pointing to a “dodgy takeaway” in Meanwood Leeds becoming Alfred, a pram shop in Otley opening as North Bar Social, and an estate agents in Oakwood that was transformed into Preston. He said: “They are all small places with low rents operating as neighbourhood locals that have chimed with our lifestyles. They each have an individual identity with only hints they are part of a group. We want to do something different as our customers are not into chains.” Wet sales account for more than two-thirds (70%) of North Bar’s sales, which led to the company launching North Bar Brewing Co in 2015. Despite Townsley feeling the company’s original 15-barrel kit would be “over-reaching”, brewing is now at full capacity – 2,500HL in the past year. Townsley said new vessels were being brought in that would ramp capacity up to 4,000HL for this coming year, which would result in 75% of output going to “other free trade” pubs, compared with the current 50%. He said the figures highlighted a strong appetite for North Brewing Co beers in the wider market, with his own bars only offering two lines for house-brewed beers, including Prototype that is exclusive to its venues. North Bar launched in Leeds in 1997 and Townsley said proof of how the company had progressed could be seen in weekly revenues at its debut bar, which are five-times higher than the early days, while the venue now offered 20 beer lines compared with the original six.
Soho Coffee Co continues London expansion with second opening in seven days: Artisan fresh food and coffee brand Soho Coffee Co has continued its expansion in London by opening its second site in the capital in seven days. The new outlet in Grosvenor Street, Mayfair, follows the opening of the Kingsway store opposite the London School of Economics. It marks Soho Coffee’s seventh site in the capital and its seventh store to open nationwide this year. Owner and managing director Penny Manuel said: “We are incredibly proud of our current rate of expansion, which we have achieved without compromise to our great food and coffee, or the reputation and approachability of our staff. Unlike many of our competitors, we have maintained the local, community feel to our stores, with staff who know our regular customers by name. London expansion has long been on our minds and we’re delighted to be so well-received in the capital.” The brand is planning further openings for 2017 having already opened sites in Cheltenham and Birmingham alongside outlets in London in Baker Street, O2 Centre, Austin Friars and Kingsway since January.

BVC Group starts Ahi Poké expansion with second site, in Victoria: London-based BVC Group has started expansion of Ahi Poké, the restaurant serving Hawaiian raw fish dish poké, by opening its second site, at the Nova development in Victoria. The concept, which is the brainchild of Jeremy Coste, Gabriel Cohen-Elia and David Bellaiche, who are behind Mayfair’s North Audley Cantine and wine bar Chez Chow, launched Ahi Poké in Fitzrovia last summer. Now the trio have brought the restaurant to the Nova development and represents the first step in a wider expansion plan to roll-out the concept. Just like its sibling, Ahi Poké Victoria is decorated in pastel hues and built from sustainable materials including reclaimed driftwood. It features both indoor and outdoor seating areas although it is primarily a takeaway location. All poké bowls are made to order and can be customised as diners choose their favourite base (rice, quinoa, kale), protein (sustainably sourced salmon, ahi tuna and shrimp, or marinated mushrooms), as well as sauce and topping. Daily and weekly specials are also featured, alongside a selection of premium non-alcoholic drinks, and Earl Grey pineapple or milk chocolate cookies for dessert. To fit the brand’s sustainable ethos, all orders are served in compostable containers.

Pizza Hut reveals plans for 14,000 additional delivery drivers in US as it unveils new technology: Pizza Hut US, which is owned by Yum! Brands, has revealed plans to bring in 14,000 additional delivery drivers by the end of the year as it unveiled new technology. The new hires – nearly 3,000 a month – will include full and part-time positions and are based on the needs of the individual restaurant and market. In addition to increasing its driver fleet, Pizza Hut has developed a “delivery network algorithm” (DNA) that will completely change its pizza delivery business. The DNA is a multi-faceted technology system that improves the accuracy and reliability of Pizza Hut deliveries. The system is capable of predicting how long a delivery will take and will account for variable factors such as weather, construction, traffic and other irregularities in the delivery pattern to enable safe, accurate deliveries. The new technology will be available in all 6,300 US Pizza Hut restaurants immediately. The company has also rehauled its online mapping and location services to improve its ability to accurately locate customers and identify the most convenient restaurant locations for both faster delivery and takeout options. Pizza Hut US president Artie Starrs said: “We have a belief that ‘No One OutPizzas the Hut’ and for us that’s so much more than a tag line – it’s a promise that we are making to our customers. Our plan is to keep drivers busy, efficient, and on the road in an effort to best serve our customers.”

Wakefield-based Avenue Bars opens sixth site, plans further expansion: Wakefield-based Avenue Bars has opened its sixth site and plans further expansion. Owners Bradley and Ashley Crecraft have launched Kindred Spirit in Albion Court. The brothers secured £145,000 in bank funding to fit-out the venue. Avenue Bars is behind Wakefield venues The Foundation and Havana as well as three bars including Stereo in the town. Bradley Crecraft told Insider Media: “After the success of Stereo Bar we formed Avenue Bars, with the aim of creating a new high-end offering for the Wakefield area. This is hopefully the start of a great future for Avenue Bars and we aim to open many more venues.” NatWest relationship manager Simon Winterburn added: “Avenue Bars is undertaking an exciting period with the launch of Kindred Spirit. It’s a new concept in the town and I wish Bradley and Ashley every success for the future.”

Smoking Goat to start expansion with second site, in Shoreditch: London-based Thai barbecue restaurant Smoking Goat is to start expansion by opening its second site, in Shoreditch. The new restaurant is opening in Redchurch Street on the site of the former White Horse pub in October. Ali Borer will move from Smoking Goat’s other site in Denmark Street in Soho to head the kitchen and become co-owner alongside Ben Chapman and Brian Hannon. The restaurant will have seating for about 100 and feature an open kitchen and bar with some counter seating through the centre of the building and canteen-like large tables elsewhere. It will have a short barbecue and seafood menu including tom yam nam sai with other dishes featuring prawns, velvet crab and wild mussels. There will be three or four white and red wines on a daily changing list all by the glass. There will also be a range of beers, orientated towards fresher, easy drinking pale ales, reports Hot Dinners. Chapman and Hannon also operate side-of-the-road restaurant Kiln in Soho.

Greene King partners with Nickelodeon for ‘summer of awesomeness’ campaign: Brewer and retailer Greene King has partnered with Nickelodeon & Viacom Consumer Products (NVCP) for a “summer of awesomeness” campaign. The agreement, the first multi-brand partnership by NVCP with a UK restaurant chain, will see Greene King’s Hungry Horse, Fayre & Square and Wacky Warehouse brands host themed activities featuring PAW Patrol, SpongeBob SquarePants and JoJo Siwa. These include a Nickelodeon-themed kids menu on offer throughout the summer, including a special PAW Patrol meal deal with pup-themed cutlery, juices and slushies and a branded puzzle sheet. There are also themed competitions, including a sticker collector card that gives kids the chance to enter to win prizes as well as a themed selfie stand encouraging families to upload their picture online and enter the prize draw. Prizes include a variety of books, DVD’s, themed parties and a family trip to Nickelodeon Land at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. In addition, the restaurants are providing activity sheets across all three brands plus JoJo Siwa-themed craft afternoons for kids. Greene King marketing manager Olivia Robertson said: “We hope these iconic characters will provide enjoyment to families dining with us across the UK this summer.” Marianne James, Nickelodeon UK vice-president, commercial partnerships, consumer products and experiences, added: “The properties included ensure kids of all ages, from toddlers to teens, are catered for in the campaign. From pup parties at Wacky Warehouse to JoJo Siwa-themed arts and crafts, it certainly is going to be an awesome summer!”

Michelin-starred chef Gonzalo Luzarraga opens fine-dining restaurant in Fulham: Michelin-starred chef Gonzalo Luzarraga has opened fine-dining restaurant Rigo in Fulham, south west London. Luzarraga trained under Alain Ducasse and earned Michelin stars in top European restaurants. He has launched Rigo with Francesco Ferretti in New King’s Road. The layout encompasses three rooms, with an open kitchen in the centre, a terrazzo counter and small bar. Luzarraga grew up in Piedmont, north west Italy, with Rigo meaning a “journey of rigorous research” in the Piedmontese language. His six-course signature menu features sea urchin with bagna caoda, quail egg and fermented milk. There is also an a la carte menu comprising four courses plus snacks, which feature other dishes, and a smaller lunch menu. The drinks list features changing classic cocktails and wine. Luzarraga said: “I remember my father while fishing giving me my first sea urchin as a child and to this day it’s still a dish I see as an old friend. It’s a personal narrative about me and the dish, which has developed over the years. Travelling has allowed me to add chapters to that story, full of new ingredients and techniques from Russia and South America to Asia and beyond. Rigo is a culmination of those experiences – my journey on a plate.”

Lancashire-based Bowland Brewery reports record week as sales jump 159%: Lancashire-based Bowland Brewery, owned by Emporia Leisure, has reported record trading with sales last week up 159% year-on-year. The brewery, based at Holmes Mill in Clitheroe, beat its previous best sales by the equivalent of 7,200 pints. Managing director Warren Bennett said: “We’ve been on a roll with week-on-week sales increases, with last week’s figures representing a 159% year-on-year uplift. This was made up of sales to the licensed trade and supply to local festivals, including Beat-Herder. In May, we also saw bottle stock flying off the shelves with sales of 35,000 – another record for the brewery thanks to our increased distribution via Spar and Booths and the successful opening of the new food hall at our home in Holmes Mill. We are anticipating a bumper summer.”

Costa launches Nitro Cold Brew: Whitbread’s Costa Coffee brand has launched Nitro Cold Brew at 16 sites in the UK. The nitrogen-infused drink is poured through a bespoke tap, and is described as Costa’s smoothest and richest cold coffee yet. Nitro Cold Brew Coffee is made with Costa’s Cold Brew, a single origin Colombian blend, steeped for more than 20 hours to “enhance the natural coffee flavour”. The nitrogen infusion creates tiny bubbles that cascade through the coffee as it streams from the tap – similar to the beer taps found at a local pub. Caroline Harris, global brand director at Costa Coffee, said: “As part of our mission to inspire the world to love great coffee, we are constantly working to bring new coffee experiences and innovations to our customers. Nitro Cold Brew is a new, exciting way to enjoy coffee. With its nitrogen infusion, 20-hour brewing process and single origin Columbian blend, Nitro Cold Brew Coffee is our most velvety smooth drink yet.” Nitro Cold Brew Coffee is available in 12 stores across London, four in Manchester and across Europe, the Middle East and Asia. 

M&B plans Miller & Carter opening in central Aberdeen: Mitchells & Butlers has targeted the centre of Aberdeen for a new Miller & Carter site. The new site, which will be in the former Esslemont & Macintosh store in Union Street, could open in time for Christmas or in the new year. The department store closed its doors in May 2007 for the last time when owners Owen Owen went into administration. The building was then placed on the Buildings at Risk Register in 2013 and remains on it today. Dustin MacDonald, chairman of Aberdeen City Centre Community Council, said: “The building has been worked on for a while now but it is good to hear the steakhouse will open. Aberdeen has some really good restaurants so it will be nice to see another one opening in the city centre.”

Hull-based multi-site operator to start expansion of Dope Burger concept with second site: Hull-based multi-site operator Oliver Johnson is to start expansion of his Dope Burger concept with a second site in the city. Johnson is planning to open the new 50-seater restaurant in an empty property on the corner of New Cleveland Street. Inside the venue a wall will be covered in street art, just like Dope Burger’s other restaurant in Anlaby Road, reports the Hull Daily Mail. Johnson also operates Wagwan Chicken, offering jerk chicken and Caribbean-styled dishes, and in April launched Boss Burritos, which serves Mexican cuisine.

Stonegate to launch new Walkabout menu: Stonegate Pub Company is launching a new menu on Tuesday, 25 July at its Walkabout brand, acquired at the end of last year. New sharing dishes will feature tin can mac ‘n’ cheese, sweetcorn fritters with maple bacon and double chicken wings. The selection of burgers will include a giant waffle stack and a roo burger. Vince Williams, head of marketing for Walkabout, said: “Using our Aussie heritage and expertise to inform and inspire every part of our offering, we have spent a lot of time refining and updating our food and drink menus. Truly reflecting the Australian spirit of socialising, we want to make sure our customers have a great time whenever they visit. With more dishes and drinks to choose from than ever before, there’s always something new and different to discover.”

Devon-based Bell Inns sells South Hams pub off £600,000 asking price: Devon-based Bell Inns has sold The California Country Cross Inn in the South Hams region off an asking price of £600,000. The pub, near Modbury, has been bought by Mike Hayes through agent Charles Darrow. The property, which had been in the ownership of Bell Inns since 2003, has about 116 covers throughout the snug, bar, family room and restaurant over the ground floor while there is three-bedroom owner’s accommodation on the first floor. Outside, the property has landscaped gardens, a car park for 50-plus vehicles and lapsed planning permission for six letting bedrooms. Hayes plans a rolling plan of refurbishments while “endeavouring to utilise the charm that already exists”.

Dover-based Indian restaurant to open second site, in Sandwich: Dover-based Indian restaurant Namaste is to open its second site, in Sandwich. Sumit Patel is opening the new venue in The Quay on the site of the former Greek restaurant Elizavet. Namaste offers popular and traditional dishes from across India, “challenging diners’ perception of true Indian food”. A concise menu will be on offer in the new restaurant, with dishes cooked to order. It will also give Namaste a chance to expand its Indo-Chinese menu – a selection of dishes that feature a fusion of the Orient with the Indian subcontinent. Patel told Kent Live: “We are taking on a huge refurbishment with the building. We were looking to expand for quite a while and Sandwich always appealed to me. We will probably bring the fusion-style cooking into the menu more in Sandwich too, as this is something that has become increasingly popular in India recently.” Patel launched Namaste at the Swingate Hotel in Dover in 2014.

Europe’s first ahimsa cafe reopens at new site in Cardiff: Cardiff-based vegan cafe Atma, which is believed to be the only outlet in Europe where the dairy products sold come from cows that will never be slaughtered, has reopened at a new site in the city. The cafe, which closed at its previous Church Street site in April, advocates the principal of ahimsa – a belief, central to the religions of Hinduism and Buddhism – that all living beings have a spark of divine energy and to hurt others is ultimately the same as hurting oneself. Atma has moved to the Capitol Shopping Centre in Queen Street and Pretenders star Chrissie Hynde, a prominent vegan and animal rights campaigner, was on hand to reopen the cafe, reports Wales Online. Atma has won several food awards, including The Observer’s “Best ethical restaurant in Britain” title, and it also provides space for healthy living activities such as yoga and meditation.

Nottingham-based cocktail bar and nightclub concept to open oriental bakery and cafe in city: Nottingham-based cocktail bar and nightclub concept Coco Tang is to start expansion by opening its second site in the city. The company will open an oriental bakery and cafe this summer in Byard Lane, next to The Tokenhouse store. The new business will offer speciality coffee, patisserie, oriental bakery, cocktails and other Vietnamese food, reports West Bridgford Wire. Coco Tang was launched in Bridlesmith Gate in 2008.

Dalata submits plans for redevelopment of Dublin hotel: Ireland’s largest hotel operator Dalata has submitted plans for the redevelopment of the Tara Towers Hotel in Dublin. The company wants to demolish the existing building and replace it with a mixed-use development featuring a four-star Maldron hotel with 140 bedrooms, a restaurant, bar and meeting facilities; 70 homes; and a basement car park. Dalata said it would seek a development partner in due course to fund and build the residential component of the scheme. The Tara Towers Hotel will remain open while the planning application is in process. Dermot Crowley, Dalata deputy chief executive for business development and finance, said: “We considered a number of options for the Tara Towers Hotel. The hotel has performed very well since we acquired it and we are very excited about the trading potential for a new four-star Maldron hotel in this location. If the planning application is successful, we will review our options on the development of the site.” The Tara Towers Hotel, which Dalata acquired in January last year, is located on a 1.46-acre site next to the recently developed Elmpark Urban Campus. 

Glasgow DJs launch permanent site for pop-up ramen restaurant: Glasgow DJs Jackmaster and Spencer Beveridge have opened a permanent site for their ramen noodle restaurant pop-up launched in partnership with Paul Beveridge, one of the founders of record label Numbers. Ramen Day in Queen Street offers bowls of ramen prepared from scratch with variations on a rich, creamy pork broth with springy noodles, chashu pork belly, marinated kirkurage mushrooms, nori seaweed, egg and spring onions. There is also a selection of gyoza dumplings. The drinks menu includes saké and Japanese cocktails, reports Glasgowist. Paul Beveridge was inspired to launch a ramen restaurant after living in Japan for 11 years.

Viva Brazil closes Birmingham site: Viva Brazil has closed its Birmingham restaurant just five months after the group went into administration. The Liverpool-headquartered restaurant group has struggled in recent years and the Birmingham site has become its third closure. Its restaurant in Aberdeen shut in January 2015 after seven months and its Newcastle site was open for 14 months before it closed in September last year. The group collapsed into administration in February before it was bought back by its founder Andy Aldrich. At the time he said all of its restaurants were “performing strongly”. But the restaurant, which only opened in May 2016 after a £1.2m investment into the Bennetts Hill site, has now closed. The site had previously been home to Indian restaurant Isaacs and, before that, Thai Orchid. Aldrich said: “It is with deep regret we close the Birmingham site. I would like to thank customers who dined with us over the past 15 months since we opened. I understand news of a new concept in our Bennetts Hill location will be announced in the coming days.” Staff at the Birmingham site have been “given the option” of a transfer to another Viva Brazil restaurant, although the group’s other sites are in Liverpool, Cardiff and Glasgow.

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